Mid Essex Trophy DF
- The Day of the Triffids
Start Gt. Bentley 13:30
Operator Roy G4JAC/P
Location - North of Tiptree , just over
20 Km from the start
DFers, old and new, gather at Great Bentley Green
|A lovely day and
thirteen competitors, four of whom were beginners. Colin &
Rosie were going to compete separately for the first time and they had
brought along a young Tim (not to be confused with the very
old 'Tim the Burned Out', who henceforth will be referred to
as TimBO). Craig (also new) would travel with Graham, while
Bob visiting from the Harwich club, would do the first part with Timbo.
The fourth beginner, Roger, had been given the location of
the site and would meet with me (Roy) for some quick instruction before
being left to do battle with the ten hidden Txs.
I had used Pod's wood before and was extremely
disappointed when only three people turned up on the event, I hoped today would make more appropriate use
of this excellent location.
|As you can see above
the transmitters were located in three
woods with the Maxi roughly in the centre allowing me to exploit the rules
to the full. Normally I would not have the Txs spread so
but this event was longer than normal and the Mid Essex Trophy was at
stake - the winner had to earn that coveted prize.
I had to think
carefully how I could structure the layout to give the beginners some
success while providing a real challenge for the 'experts'.
Ideally I wanted the beginners to find two or three and the
experts not to find all. (The not finding all is a desirable feature of
this style of competition, ensuring that the experts have to make that
'when to give up and go for the Maxi' decision - true DFers
Those who took a copy of my
original Tx plan from the pub will note some subtle differences above,
this is where they were actually placed on the day.
The larger pond in Conyfield Wood, Micro Z was close by.
great plan: Conyfield Wood, being the smallest, was where I
intended to shepherd the beginners to. MIni K would act as
beacon to get them close enough to hear W and Z. Pods Wood
be medium difficulty with the stations more spread out and Layer Wood
was intended to be the hardest with only two very well hidden
Minis. J was located on the linking footpath to encourage competitors away from the main road.
Micros W, X,Y, Z and Maxi A would have a white A4
sheet to spot in addition to the dreaded, virtually invisible 'Butson
Triffids'. The Minis, being used to frustrate the old hands,
would just have the Triffid. In addition the Micros and Maxi
would be within a few metres of a decent path while the Minis would not!
my initial visit to the woods I found that various activities go on
which it would be wise not to clash with, archery,
paint balling and
search & rescue
dog training. When I used Pods Wood previously I had spoken
one of the house owners at Haynes Green, a quick phone call to him gave
me the relevant farmer to speak to and from there I got numbers for the
reps of all these activities. I was able to
ascertain that we would not clash with the archers or dog trainers on
Oct 17th and provided we kept away from the NE corner of Layer wood we
would not get shot at. With loads of dog walkers about I also
made the free 0300 call to the Police so they were aware that mad
people running about in army gear and wearing headphones were no threat
the general public. All those spoken to were most helpful and this gave
me the piece of mind that the only irate people I would have to
confront on the day would be DFers!
the day I arrived on site at 10 am having put up the aerials for Maxi A
and the Micros the day before. I was pleased I didn't leave
it any later as it was 1:00 pm before all Txs were in place,
synchronised and tuned up. A text from Philip at the start,
just over 20Km away, saying he had heard me tuning up told me we were
ready to go. I had arranged to meet with Roger at the bottom
of the Conyfield Wood at 1:45. By 2:00 pm he seemed to know
what all the knobs on the set did and was set free to hunt.
Taking the car to the top end of the wood to retrieve
my aerial pole left by Micro Z, I was quite surprised to see
he was already closing in on W. I was even more surprised
when Philip arrived (2:15) saying he had parked miles away (top of
Layer Wood) - serious running from our ex National Champion. Was
this going to be too easy for him? I was relieved when he ran straight
by W, obviously not listening on 1843 KHz.
Having found the aerial pole I drove back to Pods Wood where
Graham and Craig were running along the road. Waving goodbye to Graham
I grabbed Craig for some DF set instruction and set him loose at the
same beginners start point at the bottom of Conyfield Wood. Within
minutes I spotted Timbo and Bob and applied the same treatment.
As Bob was released Larby was spotted heading for K.
Roger appeared beaming and pronouncing that this was much more fun
than he had thought. I suggested he should now attempt Maxi A
and when close listen on 1901 KHz.
Micro Z with 'easy to see A4 sheet' at the bottom of the tree.
Tim and Bob
out of four beginners 'happily' on their way but where was Tim (the younger)?
I eventually tracked him down with Rosie standing about 3
metres away from Maxi A. A brief conversation established
that they had not yet found it. Not wishing to spoil their fun
I waited as they circled 'Logo like' until they had.
With tickets for A and Y posted I persuaded them up to
Conyfield Wood. At the tea I learned that they had
found K (hard) and Z but had not tuned to 1843 and thus missed W,
altogether '...... Ahhhhhh bless.... '
A vibrating mobile phone alerted me to the plight of a slightly less
happy Roger, he had found Y but was struggling with Maxi A - "A minute of
transmission isn't enough for me to get a bearing" (and perhaps he was
right, see my conclusion). However, reminding him that when he found Y
he must have been within 200 metres of the Maxi A, plus a few shouts in
Pods Wood to get him walking the right way had him back on track.
A bit more advice "The set won't help you much when you are
close in, the long aerial is all around you, at this point it is just a
game of hide and seek ... " does the trick.
| Tim & Rosie heading for K
Roger and Colin getting close to Maxi A
4:12 pm Graham has spotted Maxi A
tickets at the Maxi
Ian was keen to prove that he was first to find Mini i
4:30 pm -weary DFers gather by the Maxi.
So it was time to
collect up the Txs and head for the pub. At this point, what had been
an almost perfect day for 'Your's truly the operator', took a
turn for the worse. I decided to take the new set I had built, which
Craig had been using, to track down Micro X and Mini H. Micro
X was no problem, sharp nulls and the sense circuit worked fine at a
distance BUT when I attempted H, the one minute transmissions plus
my uncertainty about
what the set was telling me caused complete confusion! Failing to
find it after three transmissions and aware that I really needed to get
to the pub I gave up and ran back to
the car for my normal set. In contrast one transmission close in and I
was at H. Again more about this in the conclusion.
The competitors show their appreciation of the event.
By the time I
got back to the pub most people had finished their meals. The laptop
was powered up and brimming with confidence after finding nine
out of ten stations, Larby volunteered to read out the ticket values.
Unfortunately as he read out Philip's tickets he realised that he
also had nine to his credit and three were 40s.
So for the
second year in a row the trophy was Manningtree bound.
In the table below an x by a value means that ticket was not handed at
the Maxi before 4:30 and thus is not counted.
Bob's two 15s are counted because none have been handed in on time but
his total is ranked after all the others who did get some
tickets in on time. More explanation is here
if you are not familiar with the scoring system.
is the tradition, after a DF, the first two competitors are invited to
explain how they did, so that others may learn from their approach.
Before I hand over to Philip I think I should point out that he
was seen getting rather too close to a number of exotic mushrooms
abundant on site.
This one was near Mini H, perhaps it was the cause of my own difficulties near that Tx? Over to the melodic Philip.
|Results show – Sundays X Factor.
Sunday 19th October - music sung out from radios gathered at Gt Bentley Green for the latest round of the X-Factor.
would be saved, who would be ridiculed, who would win, all would become
clear as the results programme went on air at 1.30 pm precisely.
Yes there would be drama and tears for both the novices and the more experienced contestants, the judges would see to that.
all joined in the opening number, trill and loud, short and sweet, but
enough to open the show and set people off on the right line.
to be voted down was Gary. (Struggling with a malfunctioning sense circuit Ed.) His rendition of ‘Lost in Alresford’ was
given a right panning by judge Simon Cowell, and he was sent home
distraught (that’s the cruelty of X-Factor). Others would surely follow
before the end of the show.
The artist who made it first to the new Layer Wood stage, was
Philip, who got through with his version ‘In the Year 1843’. Following
this up with a fast, tuneful version of ‘ Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’ he
and his support band ‘Middle of the Road’ walked the ‘Hundred Miles’
across into the Classic ‘Coney Island’ wood. Here at the Mount they
took tickets from those in row ‘W’ and ‘Z’ as well as from the cute
girl wearing a sexy Mini skirt, known to all as Kay Triffid, hard to
find and hard to please. Judge Cowell was there to watch, distracted as
usual by Cheryl Cole this time searching the ground for sweet
Chestnuts, but still clearly doubting whether our star would find the
X-Factor in time.
|Act two saw our star Philo across the road,
launching his i-pod in the wood to locate his fans in row ‘H’. Swept up
in all the exuberance he did the old time favourite ‘Walk on by’ thus
missing the X-Factor that lay there, not lost but ‘Undiscovered’.
to take on the less well know ‘Ramparts’ by the band Kashmir, getting
only a ‘J.lo’ rating by the judges who were starting to turn against
the performance of our old timer, especially as he got stuck in the mud
both ways and started to smell badly. Simon may have turned up his nose
at this new odour – but no one could tell the difference from his
The ‘Sixth step to Heaven’ found Philo in
Layer Wood with another clutch of votes for the performance at ‘L’. On
stiff questioning from the Judges he finally broke down stating ‘I
can’t fight this feeling any more’ and decided to return for a quick
run in his car down ‘The long and winding road’, to pick up again his
earlier performance to the crowds in i-pod wood, though still showing
no sign of a true X-Factor discovery on the cards.
with the Merry double act there was a short run through of Annie
Lennox’s ‘Why’ but by this time the big points had all gone.
4.00 pm eight votes were in, just in time for the final curtain call
with a run through of ‘A Long & Winding road’ back in the main
This took the Philo score to just nine and despite
some miss-leading, last minute coaching by his sponsor, it became clear
there was going to be no top ten this year, the competition had just
been too hard.
So no X-Factor, but lots of postal votes were counted up in the Green room at the Cricketers after the show had finished.
A standing ovation was given to Forjac TV services for hosting this years Essex eliminator.
the final scores were read out, floods of tears followed as the other
contestants realised they have failed in their life long dreams to out
perform the irrepressible Philo, who had lost none of the magic,
despite a bad back, dislocated finger and smelly shoes.
interviewed soon after on Radio One, the Star of the show set the world
a-gasp, revealing hidden details of a sordid and perverted sex life,
long term addiction to a variety of substances, numerous affairs with
other frequencies, several convictions for shop lifting and drunk
driving, along with a secret desire to get onto Strictly Come Dancing.
So every chance he will become even more famous and be back again next
|Yep definitely mushroom
syndrome. In desperation we turn to Larby to explain to our
newcomers just how a DF should be done:
||I turned up on a sunny Sunday at the start full of hope and expectation (actually trepidation). There was some curiosity from a retired Lady Vicar and of a lot of people that would be taking part.
1st signal but is the old fox in Wivenhoe on low power? Several more
“test” bearings reveal he is in Friday Woods. I pass Richard and meet
Ian on Clinghoe Hill as we enter into Colchester. Other bearings
confirm Friday Woods, upon arriving there he has moved everything along
the road to Layer Wood ( I said he was crafty)
I met Ian again. I
decided to approach from the South so I could decide if Layer Wood
(East) or Copse Wood (West). The signals now went East, West and North
So that’ll be 3 woods then ? I decided on “L” as did Ian, only
100 yds in and up came the TX but it took 3 more goes to actually find
the Triffid despite being no more than 20 feet at any time from it! Anyway
a healthy 40 points. Colin had also gone around in circles. On
the way out I saw Richard but where was Ian? Who cares?
decided to locate “A” but I was unable to park so headed for this
Micro, it had to be close it was so strong. I crossed the road and ran
and ran and ran eventually finding “W”, I found “Z” quickly and saw
Roy enjoying watching our misery! I found “K” easily but where was the
damn Triffid ? (language Ed.) From here I ran South East for “H” but it took several
transmissions to reach it only to find Tim and Ian lurking close by. As
the signal came on I helped them by running away then came back to a
few jeers from Ian. I took care of “X” quickly and began to feel
confident on my way to “J”. There’s Ian and he tries to cross the bog
which claimed his leg up to the knee, (my turn to jeer but I restrained
myself!) With “J” found it was around to “A” at 4:20, as “Y” sounded
close it was found and claimed in the Post-box before 4:30.
My efforts brought me second place with 9 of the 10 found behind the worthy winner in the shape of Philip. There was also some poetic justice when Roy couldn’t find “H” due to a faulty set and had to return to his car for another. (I see no poetry in it Ed.)
|Conclusion (already I hear you say)|
to all of you for coming, especially the beginners. This style of
DF was conceived in order to give you a chance to compete in the same
competition as old hands (see here).
With each event I think we get closer; the first part (in
Conyfield Wood) worked well. The second part where the wood was
larger and it was essential to DF the Maxi gave problems.
You will see from the results that
Colin (winner of the last 'Multi') did uncharacteristically badly - the
main reason being that he
had used the spare set so that Rosie could use the normal one.
I suspect he suffered from the same difficulties that I had
trying to find H with an unfamiliar set. Given sets that we were
not used to, neither of us could sense the Minis close in and with just
a minute of signal you don't get the chance to run in on strength
alone. So it is no wonder that those using a DF set for the first
struggled! It was never my intention that the Minis should form part of
the 'Beginners Course', however, it is necessary for them to find the
Maxi which also only runs one minute in five. It does
run continuously for the last 30 minutes but by this time
may become disillusioned. Therefore I have reprogrammed the Maxi
to give longer transmissions (2 mins) during the last hour - full
details are here. Hopefully this will be more appropriate for beginners while having little effect on the challenge presented to
the experts, they will be far too busy trying to find the Minis.
the Micros are easy to DF for an expert, remembering to check for them
at each station and incorporating them into your point collection
strategy does provide a challenge for all. There distribution
also adds a small element of luck which does give us old'uns a chance
of beating the young and fit sometimes. Timbo, who would normally
count among the young and fit but on this occasion suffering from a
chest infection, told me how surprised he was at what he had achieved by just
walking the course and concentrating on careful radio operation.
Two more chances to experience Multi-Tx DF this year see here
and thus two more chances to tweak the competition to amuse both novice
and expert. Good luck to Ian and then Timbo in this respect.
Thanks to all who provided pictures and words to create another epic report.